As the through trip was a little oversubscribed we decided to split the group and I took half into Pasg and Becca took the rest into Foel Fawr.
We found the entrance without too much issue and navigated our way over the sump and boulders to the ladder pitch. Rigging the ladder proved to be a bit of a challenge as we weren’t able to use the spits and had to use a natural belay backed up to a bolt further back from the pitch head. I belayed everybody down then started to climb down myself. When I was about half way down the awkward climb I heard Jess (who was belaying me) making squeaking noises to Mark. When I glanced down I saw the reason for her noises were because she was rapidly running out of rope! I managed to make it to 6ft above the ground before the rope ran out completely, at which point Jess had to start climbing up the wall to let me down, like a Victorian pair of weigh scales!
As we walked through the canal we could hear the other group ahead and stopped at the top of the calcite slope for an exchange of tales of the trip so far. After informing Brendan of the slightly economical length of the belay rope we continued on to the connection. Once through the rather unpleasant u-bend we were at the fallen slab squeeze. I went through first, closely followed by Amy who flew through. Ian went next and needed only a little help to get across. Now Mark had been previously defeated by this squeeze and after learning that Brendan had made it through he was determined to make it also. However he first wanted to make sure that if he were to get stuck, Andy and Jess would be able to get him back out, so they were asked to pull on his wellies as he breathed out. I guess they were expecting Mark to be a little more jammed than he actually was, as they yanked on his feet, shooting him backwards at high speed and bashing a delicate area of his anatomy on a nodule of rock. Oops! So after a few painful dummy runs and getting me to ‘passage size test’ to find the best route, Mark committed to the squeeze. There was a bit of puffing and hand holding but he got through with utter determination and even managed a little victory smile through the grimace of pain when he was stood back on his feet. After watching and listening to Mark going through Andy gave the squeeze a valiant effort but decided the bypass would be a better route. Now it turns out the bypass is not such an easy option when you are well in excess of 6ft tall with long legs like Andy, but he kept wriggling and bending his body into angles it naturally shouldn’t be at, until he popped through to join us.
Everyone flew through the flat out crawls and up the muddy climb to find ourselves on the way out of the cave just in time to see the other group walking along lower down the quarry.
Trip report Chloe Burney
Present: Ian Millward, Andy Williams, Jess Burkey, Amy Sawyer, Chloe Burney & Mark Burkey.